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This LC-MS/MS Application Detects Almond and Peanut Allergens in Spices

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If you suffer from peanut allergies, you may want to think twice before diving into a bowl of something spicy. The reason being, some shipments of North American and European products containing ground cumin, cumin powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, and pilli-pilli powder have been found to contain undeclared peanut and almond proteins. Think dinner kits, supermarket curries, veggie and black bean burgers, and salsa.

Here is how it all started: In 2014, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) discovered undeclared peanut and almond protein in products containing cumin.  Then, in December 2014, North American cumin samples turned up containing peanut protein. In February 2015, the FDA issued a statement declaring that people with highly sensitive peanut allergies should avoid these foods. Products containing known contaminants were then recalled in rapid succession. In all, 20 alerts were issued by the FDA and products were recalled throughout Europe. Some experts say the trace amounts of protein are the results of poor harvest and crop failure, with nuts used as a substitute. The American Spice Trade Association (ASTA) has taken a more conservative approach pointing out that spices such as cumin are grown alongside peanuts resulting in low-level cross-contact.     

You can be certain labs are receiving an influx of spices for which to test. However, can we trust the results?  To date, testing has not been fool-proof. Traditionally enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)-based methods are used for food allergen testing. However, ELISA is plagued by false positive and false negative outcomes. 

What is the Solution?

Here at SCIEX, we propose a multi-allergen screening method to do the job. This LC-MS/MS application delivers:

  • Reduced false results by monitoring three MRM transitions for four different peptides for both almond and peanut allergens
  • Enhanced confidence in identification by measuring full MS/MS spectra for each MRM detected
  • Capacity to extend the method for the possibility to screen for 18 total allergens in the same run.

Together, we can help keep allergens out of spices for good.  To read the full application note click here.

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